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“Great Resort.”

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Hotel Riu Palace Punta Cana
Ranked #74 of 114 Hotels in Punta Cana
Reviewed 30 May 2014

We just returned from a week stay at the Riu Palace Punta Cana. We booked through Expedia and everything went smoothly. We were checked in quickly and were given a brief orientation. Since we arrived early, our room wasn't ready. We ate lunch at the buffet. We returned to the front desk and were given keys to our room. It was ready several hours before official check in. There are no magnetic key cards and you receive two keys (door / safe). It is attached to a very large plastic key ring. You may want to bring your own key ring to save space. We were then led to our room by the bellhop, who explained the amenities. He mentioned the beverage service includes a bottle of wine, but you need to request it from room service.

The room was located closer to the restaurants, lobby, sports bar and buffet, but far from the beach. This hotel has two main buildings that run adjacent or across from each other, with one end near the pool and the other closer to the facilities. There are really no ocean view rooms as the position of the buildings do not face the beach. We called and inquired about being moved closer to the beach and we were moved to a different room with no problem. After moving to our new room, we were surprised when room service delivered a bottle of wine. Apparently the bellhop had taken it upon himself to request it when we had mentioned we wanted wine. This is what i call great service.

We then took a tour of the grounds and everything was easy to find. All of the six restaurants, except for the steakhouse, are located in the same courtyard area. The steakhouse is located near the pool. Reserving at any restaurant was easy and you can eat at a different restaurant every day. They only accept reservations for two days in advance, so you will have to return two days later to reserve your next two. Reservations can be made each morning at Luigi's restaurant. We had dinner at the Bodega. They had a very small buffet area with soup and salad. The main meal consisted of various meats like chicken, steak, pork chop, sausage, etc being taken to your table. If you are a meat lover, this is great. We found the meats to be overcooked and kind of rough. If not for this, our meal would have been great. We also ate at the steakhouse. It was very good. Their lobster was small with not enough meat. It was definitely not a Maine Lobster. Despite this, the rest of the meal and service was very good. We did not eat at the other restaurants as we did not find the menu items to our liking. That is not to say they weren't good, but we found the buffet to have more than enough items to meet our needs. At the buffet, if you sit in the same area, you will be served by the same person. We did this and our waitress got to know our needs. I tipped her several dollars each night at dinner for her service. While tipping is not necessary, I don't understand people who have a problem giving a few dollars to workers who are living in real poverty. In all but the steak restaurant, males aren't permitted to wear shorts or tank tops. There is a limited room service menu located in the room.

The Riu complex is a series of hotels next to each other. As a guest at the Palace, you are able to use the facilities at the Bambu and Naiboa, including bars and buffets (not dinner). We visited the Riu Macao and Bavaro and used their pools, but could not get drinks. We checked the Bavaro restaurants. They had the same exact menu as the palace. There is a cobblestone path at the end of the beach that leads to each resort.

The palace has a good gym with treadmills and steppers. There is a 2nd gym at Caribbean Street with free weights, but the equipment is rusted. There is a disco located across the casino open till 4 am. Entry is free, but drinks must be purchased. If you don't want to walk to the disco or casino, there is a free shuttle that will drop you off at the casino. There is also a very nice pool bar located at the Naiboa. It has a view of the pool and tables to sit at. The ambiance was very good and the drinks and service was awesome.

The main attraction is the beach, which is beautiful. We never had a problem finding chairs, but there are not many shaded areas and no canopies to hide under, so bring sunscreen. Bar staff provide service at the beach, but we found it quicker to get the drinks ourselves. We had our own large insulated cups which they gladly filled. The bars have a menu listing the various drinks they offer. Chairs were a little harder to find by the pool, but you could always find one nearer the 2nd or 3rd row from the front.

Our room had daily beverage service which consisted of water, beer and sodas stocked in the refrigerator. I would leave several dollars every other day and our fridge was always stocked. A coffee machine is provided and there is also an automated liquor station with four bottles that you could use freely. The balcony had a built in rack to hang or dry clothes. The room was always extremely clean and everything worked well. There is an lcd tv, but it is not connected to hd. To our surprise, there was daily turn down service each night. We didn't see any insects or bugs and there is no need for repellent. We received a call several days into our vacation to inquire how everything was going and if the hotel could do anything to make our stay better. This was very nice. Having been to Punta Cana before, we were very surprised that no timeshare solicitation, or offers of free gifts to get you to attend one was ever attempted. We were glad this was the case.

In regards to the entertainment, there are nightly shows, the sports bar, and disco. Every night we walked to the other Riu hotels to see if we liked their entertainment better. We also did an atv tour and a safari tour which showed you the local area. It included lunch and horseback riding but the many stops were really intended to attempt to get you to buy items such as cigars, coffee, cocoa, liquor, pictures, etc. I believe it would be better to negotiate a price with a cab and do your own tour to avoid the sales pitches and to spend time visiting or doing things you actually want to do. Macao beach is beautiful and I highly recommend visiting.

In closing, the Palace is an excellent resort that was kept immaculate. The service was outstanding and the buffet was very adequate. To avoid sales pitches for tours, skip the next day orientation and confirm your transfer pickup the day before you leave. We will definitely return!!!

  • Stayed: May 2014, travelled as a couple
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16  Thank ae2j1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 30 May 2014

We spent six days, five nights at the hotel. The first impression was only fair as we needed to have our room changed however the bellman was so helpful and the staff responded so well that we felt very good after settling down. The junior suite was spacious and the bedding was great. Housekeeping in the room was very good.
The beach and pool areas are spectacular. Very active and the service was great, The evening entertainment was fun and interesting. The was plenty to do at night considering you also had access to other hotels in the resort.
The restaurants were great for breakfast and lunch. We had our dinners and both the buffet and specialty restaurants. All being considered, the Italian restaurant was the best specialty restaurant. The buffet restaurant has very good quality in the evening. We were disappointed with the steak house.
In conclusion, the service staff is really exceptional. This experience ran through the entire hotel and I would go back because they made me feel welcomed and I relaxed./

Room Tip: Location and access to the pool and beach is the best opportunity. You need to be persistent with lo...
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  • Stayed: April 2014, travelled solo
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3  Thank gibadlo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 29 May 2014

Good service from staff, clean rooms, good food and pool activities and very buenas.Lo living only thing I do not like is that on the night enter the room that is not normal and it was a group with four separate rooms and we all step. But good hotel.

  • Stayed: May 2014, travelled with friends
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1  Thank Hector F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 29 May 2014

We were moved to the Riu Palace from the Riu Bambu next door and were so delighted to find we had a lovely room that was well maintained, spacious and clean. Our room was a garden view which was fine, the gardens are very well looked after. The food in all of the restaurants was good however, the the main buffet had lots to offer, I am quite fussy and often struggle when staying at All Inclusive properties so I was really amazed at how much there was to chose from with something different being offered every day. The individual restaurants were a nice change although on occasion the service was a little on the slow side.
We're not really into holiday entertainment in the evenings although it was surprisingly good and not hi de hi!
The beach was lovely, one of the bar staff came around regularly calling "drinkie, drinkie" and had a selection of non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks. The pool was cleaned every day and the staff at the pool helpful, the same drinkie, drinkie man came round at regular intervals.
One thing to note, take loads of small change for the tips, it doesn't appear to be expected but it helps the waiting staff remember where you are! We found it quite irritating that other guests had put out towels and belongings really early in the morning taking most of the beds right next to the pool and often didn't come down at all so the beds went empty all day. They need to have a system that if the beds are not occupied by a certain time the towels are removed.
All of the staff were friendly, polite and helpful, we were always greeted with a smile. Overall, a lovely hotel and one we would be happy to return to.

Room Tip: All rooms had a view of either the garden or the sea so there are no bad views.
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  • Stayed: March 2014, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank Dawn S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 May 2014

Getting There

Before you go purchase and print your Tourist Card ($10) online at https://www.dgii.gov.do/Tturistaweb/home.
Depending on the # of flights arriving when you do, this could save 20-30 minutes allowing you to bypass that line and go directly to the Customs officials.

The Resort
The RIU Palace is comprised of 4 resorts within one facility. The Bavaro is the newest and from appearances, the nicest and most modern. You have access to 3 of the 4 unless you book the Macoa which is “Adult Only” (when we were there that translated to geriatric). We were very thankful our travel agent convinced us to upgrade to the VIP section at Bavaro. That gave us access to an adult only pool that was much quieter than the main pool which had constant activity and loud music (of course that may appeal to many but wasn’t what we were looking for. Bring a bunch of dollar bills with you. It is all-inclusive but a $1 tip here or there goes a long way.

Our travel agent recommended we upgrade to the VIP section. This was the best advice we got! The room was a little bigger but the best part was that we were able to use the adult pool. The main pool looked like fun but it was primarily 20’s-30’s. Some toddlers but not many kids as school is still in. Unless you like the loud music, constant activity and a crowded pool, the adult section is the way to go.

Caribbean Street has a collection of small shops to buy cigars, rum, mamajauana (ask when you get there), t-shirts etc. The prices are marked up by a lot. Barter for everything. The Casino is the size of an oversized living room and our guide warned us of rip off scams etc. The Hard Rock is supposedly better but we did not partake.

The only excursions we did was snorkeling and shopping. The snorkeling was not really that great but we were told it was much better on the Caribbean side but that is a full day trip. The shopping we did was arranged by Apple tours and takes you to a small compound that has a Chocolate shop where the walk you through the process, a cigar “factory” where they give you a free sample and a cigar rolling display. There is also a rum shop and a gift shop that has a variety of things to buy. It takes 20 minutes to get there and they give two 2 hours there. It was fun and informative but not really “shopping”. There are other malls you can go to.

The food was better than we thought. Many of the comments on Trip Advisor were misleading, stating the ala carte restaurants were terrible. They were not. Neither were they 5 Star restaurants. Men must wear long pants in the restaurants. We ate at Taino, the steakhouse, and it was pretty good. We both had a small filet and ½ lobster. Both were small but tasty. At Krystal (Fusion) the lamb cutlet was good but almost too mild for lamb. There was a “snapper” entrée that was very good but was a 1.5 inch thick piece of fish. Very good but in no way could be snapper….probably grouper or mahi mahi. The Italian restaurant wasn’t really Italian at all except for the antipasto bar which served as your appetizer. The chicken was tasty but the “pepper and sausage” stuffing was almost non-existent. We did not try the Asian restaurant because my wife doesn’t like sushi and that was abundant.

The main buffet is where you eat breakfast and lunch (Taino is also open for lunch). There is a wide variety of things to choose from but because they cater mostly to Europeans everything is a bit off. They always had a wide variety of good fruit which was good. One day I was craving good old American food and had a burger without bun. It did not look very appetizing but was actually tasty. You will just have to experiment.

Misc.

Mini bar and a liquor cabinet (rum, gin, vodka, scotch) was restocked every 2 days. My wife is a wine drinker and we would simply ask for a bottle at any of the bars or restaurants and bring it back to the room.

Phone/internet access was spotty at best. There are computers in the 24 hour sports bar but 30 minutes will cost you $5

Bring a bunch of singles for tips. It is all inclusive but a buck or two here and there goes a long way.

Ask for extra bottles of water. You CANNOT drink the tap water. Remember to use the bottled water for brushing teeth, rinsing toothbrush and making coffee in the room.

We heeded one tip from an online review and brought our own insulated tumblers. Otherwise all of your drinks are served in 6 oz plastic cups at the pool.

Do not buy any large shells or even straw hats at the markets…..you cannot bring them out of the country. If you booked through a tour company they should have someone to tell you all about this.

Returning

The guide told us we did not have to print a boarding pass before going to the airport and I believe that was a mistake. It is a several stage process at the airport. You have to have your boarding pass and checked bag receipt before you can go to the counter. Either spend the $5 at the hotel or go directly to the self-serve kiosks at the terminal to print passes. Checked bags can’t weigh more than 50 lbs.

When you get back to CLT there is really no one to tell you the process. Make sure you keep your boarding passes and re-entry forms nearby. Go to one of the self-serve kiosks to check in with your passport. It will snap a picture of you and print a receipt. Then you go to a customs agent to anser questions. Keep the receipt with your picture on it from the kiosk. You will need to give this to the attendant before exiting to baggage claim. If you have travelled out of the country recently you may already know all of this but it was all new to me.

Room Tip: If you want a quiet vacation upgrade to VIP for Adult only pool access
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  • Stayed: May 2014, travelled as a couple
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6  Thank TomG1225
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 May 2014

I recently spent 4 days at the RIU palace in Punta Cana and it was quite a disappointment. I have stayed at RIU properties before but this one came up short. First I reserved a junior suite superior what I got was a small room with twin beds and a 4 inch crack in the bathtub that had to leak into the unit below because it was thru the fiberglass. so the Jacuzzi tub was useless. After going back to the check in counter and asking for a different room I was offered one for $35 dollars a night but it was discounted to $100 cash. The room was the same except for the view of the court yard with the same issues in the tub, it had been refinished but it was peeling #2105. The room had a very heavy odor of smoke which was just about unbearable. The RIU also closes the pool area at 7:00 pm sharp and has a very limited entertainment selection. If you want to visit here I would recommend a different property like Iberostar.

Room Tip: The front desk said that all of the rooms are the same so superior don't mean much here not like...
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  • Stayed: May 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
1  Thank gary g
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 27 May 2014 via mobile

We did not flash the cash until the last few days of our holiday. Up until this point we have just been polite and said please and thank you. All the staff including the management could not have done enough for us. We have been called family on many occasions. This is our second visit and will not be the last.

The food is varied and plentiful, the drinks flowing and the friendliness abundant. Those in other reviews who find the staff rude may learn something by treating others as you would expect to be treated

Stayed: May 2014, travelled as a couple
7  Thank Lunner58
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Hotel Riu Palace Punta Cana

Address: Playa de Arena Gorda, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Phone Number:
Region: Caribbean > Dominican Republic > La Altagracia Province > Punta Cana
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Centre with Internet Access Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#43 Romantic Hotel in Punta Cana
#62 Luxury Hotel in Punta Cana
#63 Top resorts Hotel in Punta Cana
#67 On the Beach Hotel in Punta Cana
#67 Spa Hotel in Punta Cana
Price Range: £162 - £328 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — Hotel Riu Palace Punta Cana 4*
Number of rooms: 612
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The 24-hour All Inclusive Hotel Riu Palace Punta Cana opens all year round and is located in holiday area Punta Cana on the Dominican Republic's eastern coast, it is part of RIU Resort with four sister hotels, is situated on the Playa Arena Gorda, which stretches for 26 km. RIU Palace is the most elegant category in the RIU hotel chain, with hotels that meet the highest standards in terms of luxury, excellence and sophistication, creating a unique experience. The location is ideal due to its proximity to Punta Cana Airport PUJ (25 km) and El Cortecito (10 km) and invites you to explore the area. The hotel has 612 cozily furnished rooms with free Wi-Fi and offers many amenities. Relax in our spa, or get in shape at the gym. 4 outdoor pools, 1 children's pool. Day and evening entertainment, as well as our Pacha discotheque. For lovers of gastronomy, we offer live cooking stations at our main restaurant, Japanese, Brazilian, Italian, Fusion restaurants, as well as 5 bars. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Riu Palace Punta Cana Hotel Punta Cana
Punta Cana Riu Palace
Riu Palace Hotel Punta Cana

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